Based on an article from
VHSC is what the Malaysian Censorship Board looks for in deciding whether a film is suitable for public viewing. This stands for violence, horror, sex and counter-culture according to board chairman, Datuk Shaari Mohd Noor,
But the guidelines are not "applied 100 per cent". If we do that, I don’t think we can show any film.
Q: The public as well as those in the film industry have described the board as old-fashioned and conservative. Do you agree with this observation?
A: You are immersed in an ever controversial situation, because judging films is very subjective. The enforcement agencies are not always popular and the board happens to be one of the enforcement agencies. Naturally when you enforce laws, there is
always some dissatisfaction among the people. They always think this is not right, that is not right.
Q: Is the board flexible when you get feedback on your decision?
A: When we cut a film, we go back to the producer. If they are agreeable to the cuts, then they shouldn’t raise anymore objections. If they are not, then they can appeal and we have an appeals committee with representatives from the Home Ministry, the
Inspector-General of Police, and the Information and Education ministries. They are senior officers plus ex-government officers like us but there is also an active film maker. There is always recourse for appeal. There is redress.
Q: Do you meet film directors/producers before they make a film?
A: We get a synopsis. We don’t vet the scripts.
Q: What is your opinion of Malaysian films?
A: I do not want to comment, but I always take Iran as an example. The Iranian government guidelines are far tighter than ours but, you see, their films have won international awards.
Q: Are you saying that Malaysian film makers are in a better position because our guidelines are not as tight as those in Iran?.
A: Well, as I have said, Iranian films have won international awards.
Q: How many films does the board review in a week?
A: For the cinema, two films on the average. For the tapes, VCDs and so on, lots of them. We have a group of people to sit through the movies.
Each panel comprises usually three people. And say, if we are reviewing a Tamil film, then the head of the panel is an Indian, because, he will understand the culture better. If it is a Chinese film, then a Chinese will head the panel.
Q: How many locally-made films have you banned?
A: None at all. Since January 2003 until Feb 15, we have passed all the films we screened, including Sepet which was passed with cuts (Lulus Dengan Potongan). Also Gangster got the same rating. The rest were passed clean (Lulus Bersih).
Q: What about foreign films?
A: Perhaps, about one per cent. We don’t enjoy banning films. If the panel recommends that a film be banned, most likely, we get a second viewing. We are not trigger-happy, as most people think we are.
I must stress the fact that though our members are over 56, but they are all very alert, knowledgeable. They have a lot of experience in government service, in diverse sectors. We are just like the members of the Public Service Commission. They are also
pensioners like us.
Q: People think that since the board is made up of pensioners, they will only be too ready to impose their own value judgments.
A: I would always ask this: Are you prepared to watch television with your young daughters and grand-daugthers and see rape scenes, violence and so on? Of course, in urban areas, most people probably have more than one television set. They don’t have to
share with others when watching TV. But we are talking about the majority, say in the rural areas, in the kampung, where many people sit and watch TV together.
Q: What would make films unsuitable?
A: Several things but we look for excessiveness, like the theme of serial rapists and excessive violence. For example, a scene of a man being shot in the head may be okay but if the scene shows the head being shattered, well that is too much.
Q: Are Hong Kong martial art movies considered violent?
A: We don’t consider martial arts as violent.
Q: Would you describe your work as stressful?
A: You have to be sensitive because when you view films, your eyes need to focus and you have to listen to the dialogue. All the faculties are working. That is why there is no room for people who are not attentive.
Q: So age is irrelevant?
A: Yes, it is irrelevant. You have to be attentive. You have to be healthy and have good eyesight.